There’s no doubt that children teach the grown-ups around them more than either the kids or the grown-ups realize. I love the mutual blessing of being with both those who are older than ourselves and younger, too. Perspectives need freshening, ideas need tweaking, faith needs a boost, joy needs amplification. Here are a few things I’ve been soaking up from my dear little ones. L is our eight and a half year old son, and A is our almost-four year old daughter:
Practice what you love, and love what you practice. Both our kids have found activities that truly make their hearts sing. L is very intellectual, scientific, and reflective. He gets lost in books like me, does math for fun, and has a knack for creative writing. A is finding her niche in gymnastics and ballet. She spends her play time at home in one of two leotards, becoming more flexible and strong and skillful. The more they practice what they’re good at, the more they enjoy it…and the more they enjoy it, the more they practice it and improve. There’s virtually no urging on our part as parents. They know their talents and they use them!
Set fear aside. Sometimes I wish the kids had a little more fear when trying things, especially our little girl. However, I love that she is willing to try so many things. My mind races with thoughts of how she might get hurt, and of course it is my job to wisely protect her when she pushes the limits too far, but I’ve found that there are so many things that she can do! One of my favorite things to see her do is jumping off a gymnastics vault into a giant pit of foam blocks. When I say she jumps, she soars! Huge smile on her face, arms spread out as if she will fly across the gym, and absolutely no hesitation. Part of her confidence comes from her awareness of her own abilities as well as her knowledge of where she’s going to land. When we have a safe place to “land”, there is no reason to fear!
Lighten up. All my life, I’ve had comments here and there about how “serious” I am. While I’m not ashamed of my personality at all, and I do think there’s a lot to be said about being quiet, reflective, introspective, analytical, and focused, I’ve learned so much from my kids (and my dear husband) about letting my guard down. We have a somewhat new part of our bedtime ritual with both kids where I give each of them a “kiss that lasts all night”. All I do is kiss my hand, and then pat each one’s head, chest, shoulders, back, knees, feet, and back up again. Our twist on this is that I add big tickling to the arms and tummies. Hearing their giggles and what we call “yuk yuk laughs” in the midst of my get-them-to-bed-on-time stress helps all of us wind down. Breathe, Mommy, breathe, and laugh.
Give thanks. I like to think that I do this regularly, but I get new joy in my heart to hear the kids give thanks. They pick the simple, but important things–like getting to be together as a family on the weekend, or a new friend at school, or a new skill, or having grandparents and other family members live close by. I love when our son gives thanks for God’s love, because that means there is growth and change constantly happening in his young heart. I love when our daughter gives thanks before a meal or prays before bedtime, because it means she is learning to see God as one who loves her and wants to meet her every need in life. Also, when we are grateful as a family, our perspective shifts outward and upward. When we realize how much our cup overflows, we are ready to bless others.
What are some of the best things you’ve learned from the young people in your life, whether your own children or not? May we all keep learning, knowing that wisdom can come from unlikely sources sometimes! Blessings!